Daniel Radcliffe Talks ‘December Boys’ And ‘Deathly Hallows’
By Emily Christianson for Hollywood.com, 14th September 2007
We know him best as Harry Potter, but after five films as the bespectacled wizard, Daniel Radcliffe finally had the chance to break away from the franchise for an Australian indie film called December Boys.
The coming-of-age story centers on Maps [Radcliffe] and his three friends who live in a Catholic orphanage in Australia. When the Reverend Mother decides to send the December birthday boys on holiday, the foursome can’t wait to reach the seaside. Soon, their long-awaited vacation takes a turn when they meet a young couple unable to have children. While the younger boys fight for their attention, Maps focuses his affections on a young woman from up the coast.
Radcliffe sat down with Hollywood.com to chat about his latest project, his first love scene and, of course, what he thought of the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Hollywood.com: How did you get your three costars, James Fraser, Lee Cormie and Christian Byers, to forget about Harry Potter and relate to you as Maps?
Daniel Radcliffe: They were almost totally un-phased by me, or if they were intimidated they hid it bloody well. That was never really an issue. They were a really good bunch of kids and I really, really loved working with them. They are very cool people. James Fraser who plays Spit is essentially me at age 12, so I am very fond of James.
HW: Did Maps have a back story? Did you pull inspiration from Harry?
DR: I totally left Harry out of the equation when I was playing Maps, because they are both orphans, but they are totally different people…So it wasn’t about using what I know of Harry to portray Maps at all. And in terms of what you were saying about Maps background…I always assumed that his parents were alive and had not wanted him or at least that that is what he’d been told.
HW: Were you familiar at all with Catholicism going into this?
DR: I’m sort of confused I suppose. The person who has been my tutor for about seven or eight years has been amazing for me. She’s Catholic so it was really, really good to talk to her. She grew up [with] a very Catholic upbringing. It was really good to talk to her actually about Catholicism and about how it can, if you’re faith is shaken or you do something that feels natural it might contradict what your faith says you do. She was just telling me about how Maps would feel about what he’s doing based on his background, which was very helpful.
HW: Are you rebellious like Maps?
DR: That is what’s interesting. I don’t see Maps as being rebellious. I see him as being bored and having nothing else to do. People were saying “Who do you think is more rebellious, Harry or Maps?” I absolutely think Harry is, because Harry rails against things more, where Maps really has nothing to rail against.
HW: What about you?
DR: Maybe I’m rebelling against what people think I would be doing, but it is not a conscious thing. I’m making my own choices and if some people feel that is slightly unorthodox that’s their issue more than mine really, it doesn’t bother me.
HW: You are not the guy who would be stealing a beer and a cig…
DR: I don’t know. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to steal a beer! [Laughs]. Maybe I would. I don’t know.
HW: Was that really you mooning the camera in the film?
DR: That’s me, that’s the genuine Radcliffe ass.
HW: You put together a specific CD to capture Maps’ mood and character. What were some of the bands and musicians you chose?
DR: I recall there was a lot of Elliot Smith on there, a lot of William Mason, it was troubled guitar wielding men mainly. And a lot of Nirvana, Radiohead, [Nine] Black Alps and stuff like that. It was a fairly dark CD, but it helped. Music for me is one of the most helpful things that can get you into a scene and if I’m starting from scratch then music is the main thing I will go to first.
HW: Was it the opposite of what you would normally listen to?
DR: No, not at all. I would often listen to stuff like that. Radiohead particularly, but this CD was exclusively bands like that. I listen to a lot of – well it is all mainly guitar music, but it is not all quite that furious.
HW: What was it like shooting your first love scene? Were you nervous?
DR: We started filming up there at 11 o’clock in the morning of Dec. 23 and we finished at 4:15 a.m. on Christmas Eve. So it was a very long day and we filmed the sex scene at about 8 o’clock that night so I wasn’t too tired yet [laughs] luckily, but I was nervous definitely. Being the first love scene that I had ever done it was not exactly imposing but you were aware and going “Oh God what do I do, what don’t I do.” So just stuff like that really and luckily Teresa [Palmer] was very, very good at helping me to just chill out and just have a love for it, that’s what it is about.
**SPOILER ALERT! Plot secrets from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows are revealed beyond this point**
HW: Did you get a chance to read the last Harry Potter book? Did you start at the epilogue?
DR: I did indeed. No, I didn’t go straight to the epilogue, that’s what my grandmother does.
HW: What did you think?
DR: In terms of the ending of the book, I was thrilled…I was very, very pleased because I basically get the best of both worlds, because I get the scene of my demise and also I get to live on after that, which is any actors’ dream, you get to die and then you get more screen time, it’s fantastic.
HW: Can you talk about where you were reading the book and what you were experiencing as you were reading it?
DR: There’s a quote, I’m not going to take this into too pretentious a route…but there’s a quote from Chekhov when he wrote to the woman who was the final love of his life, who he later married and I think died with, not that she died but he was with her when he died, and he addresses a letter to her and he says, “Hello, the last page of my life.” Which seemed very appropriate to me reading this book, because he has been such a part of my life now, I’ve been with him through all my teen years, and you were suddenly aware that – I started reading it, it was wow, this is the last time I will take a journey with this character, and it was quite a special moment, and actually while reading the final chapters I was listening to Sigur Ros which was very, very appropriate actually, it really, really was, God I’d love them to do a song for one of the films, they’d be absolutely fantastic.
HW: Did you try to get through it as quickly as possible to avoid someone spoiling the ending?
DR: Weirdly I didn’t. I was at a cricket match when it came out, so I didn’t really start reading it properly. I read the first 30 pages one night, and then said, “Right, I’m not going to pick it up again until I’ve got proper time to really have a go at this book.” And actually no one spoiled the ending for me, I thought they would. I thought someone was going to shout it out what happened. But the brilliant thing about it actually – she sort of made it spoiler-proof, because even though if someone does say what state Harry ends up in, you don’t know the half of it, which is pretty impressive. When I finally did get to read it I did read it in about a day and a half just because I didn’t put it down.
HW: Were you thinking as you were reading it, “Oh my God this book is amazing, it’s going to be such a good movie”?
DR: I was thinking “How are we going to make it into a movie?” It’s going to be tough, but that’s why someone cleverer than me adapts them. I think if we get it right, which I’m confident we will, it should be amazing.
HW: You start shooting Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince next week, what do you think of the script? Did they cut a lot out?
DR: They have to. Obviously things have been taken out, but everything that drives the story forward is very much in place.
HW: Director Alfonso Cuaron says he would be willing to return to the franchise, would you like to see him come back for seven?
DR: It’s a very interesting question. I loved working with Alfonso, so I don’t want this to be misinterpreted in the slightest, but I really love working with David Yates. Who knows if he’ll do book seven. But also I think to be honest it’s really nice to have new directors come on board. Who know, it’s a long way off, book seven, it depends if David is willing to do it, I don’t know if he will be, it’s a long way off so I don’t know at the moment. But I would love to work with him [Alfonso] again in the future, I don’t know if Potter will be the place where that happens.